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Lloyd George says war will be fought to the finish
Colour sketch of David Lloyd George, British Secretary of State for War, by Edward Penfield c.1915. Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington DC 20540 USA

Lloyd George says war will be fought to the finish

London, 29 September 1916 - David Lloyd George is unequivocal in his response to suggestions that a peace may be brokered in the Great War: ‘There is no end of the war in sight. Any step at this time by the United States, the Vatican, or any neutral in the direction of peace would be construed by England as an unneutral, pro-German move.’

Mr Lloyd George succeeded the late Lord Kitchener as British Secretary of State for War last June. In an interview given to the American press, he continued: ‘Britain has only begun to fight. The British Empire has invested thousands of its best lives to purchase future immunity for civilisation. This investment is too great to be thrown away.’

‘The British are not disposed to stop because of the squealing done by Germans, or done for Germans by probably well-meaning, but misguided, sympathisers and humanitarians. For two years the British soldier had a bad time. No one knows so well as he what a bad time. He was sadly inferior in equipment. The vast majority of the British soldiers were inferior in training. He saw the Allied causes beaten all around the ring.’

He took his punishment. Even when beaten like a dog, he was a game dog. When forced to take refuge in a trench, when too badly used up to carry the fight to his enemy, he hung on without whining. He fought off every attack. He bided his time. He endured without wincing.’

Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces General Sir Douglas Haig (second from left) and his French counterpart General Joffre consulting with Mr Lloyd George (right) at the Western Front. (Image: Illustraed London News, 23 September 1916.)

But now, Lloyd George said, the worm had turned and the fight would continue until Germany surrendered: ‘There is neither clock nor calendar in the British Army today. Time is the least vital factor. Only the result counts, not the time consumed in achieving it.’

‘There is no disposition on our side to fix the hour of ultimate victory after the first success. We have no delusion that the war is nearing an end. We have not the slightest doubt as to how it is to end.’

‘The fight must be to the finish’, he added, ‘to the knockout’.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.